Save Money Flying in Europe With British Airways Avios Points

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Update: Beginning February 2, 2016, British Airways will no longer offer 1-way, short-haul (under 650 miles) coach award tickets on partner airlines in North America for 4,500 British Airways Avios points.  Instead these flights will cost 7,500 British Airways Avios points.

UPDATE: The offer for the British Airways card in this post has expired.  But check Hot Deals for the latest offers!

One of the best deals for short flights is British Airways Avios points.  Especially in Europe, because you can save a lot of money on expensive flights!

Save Money Flying In Europe With British Airways Avios Points

Save Money on a Visit to Vienna – and Fly to Another City to Keep Exploring Europe!

I’ll show you how to find and book these flights!  And how much you’ll save!

About British Airways Avios Points

Link:   British Airways

Link:   My Guide to British Airways Avios Points

Even though British Airways is not a domestic airline, you can still use their points to book flights on any of their partner airlines, here at home or anywhere in the world!

What’s unique about this program is British Airways uses a distance-based award chart.  For all flights under 650 miles, you’ll pay 4,500 British Airways Avios points for a 1-way coach award flight.

And for flights over 650 miles, but under 1,150 miles, you’ll pay 7,500 British Airways Avios points.  (I’ll show you how to easily calculate these later.)

With these distances, you can see several countries in Europe!

British Airways adds large fuel surcharges to certain international flights such as the US to Europe, but they’re much less on flights within Europe.

Save Money Flying In Europe With British Airways Avios Points

Book Flights on Lots of Airlines With British Airways Avios Points

You can book flights on these European airlines directly on the British Airways website:

Between these 5 options, you can visit several countries in Europe!

How (and Why!) to Book an Award Flight With British Airways Avios Points

Link:   Book Flights With British Airways Avios Points

To get started, you must sign-up with British Airways Executive Club (free to join!), or log into your account.

Save Money Flying In Europe With British Airways Avios Points

Under the “Executive Club” Tab, Click “Spending Avios”

On the website, hover over “Executive Club” then click “Spending Avios.”

Save Money Flying In Europe With British Airways Avios Points

Find and Click “Book a Reward Flight”

Scroll down to the “Reward Flights” section and click “Book a reward flight.”

Save Money Flying In Europe With British Airways Avios Points

Fill-In Your Airports and Dates to Start Searching for Flights

Add your flight details and when you want to travel.  I checked Paris to Vienna for award flights in May 2016.

Save Money Flying In Europe With British Airways Avios Points

I Found 2 Award Flight Options on the Date I Searched

Two flights showed up on Niki (which is part of Air Berlin).  The price is 4,500 British Airways Avios points plus $34 in taxes.

I’ll happily pay that amount!

Save Money Flying In Europe With British Airways Avios Points

Save ~$201 When You Book With British Airways Avios Points

That’s because the same flights sell for ~$201!  I’d rather save that money and use my points instead.

Keep in mind though, you may still have to pay for checked bags, depending on the route.

Save Money Flying In Europe With British Airways Avios Points

For This Trip, You’ll Pay ~$39 for a Checked Bag

Air Berlin charges ~$39 to check a suitcase on this trip.  But, I’d still be saving a lot of money, even with a checked bag.

Let’s look at another example.

Save Money Flying In Europe With British Airways Avios Points

Finland’s Seaside Capital Is a Short Flight From Other Major European Cities

Maybe you’d like to fly from Berlin to Helsinki?

Save Money Flying In Europe With British Airways Avios Points

Gulp! This Flight Costs ~$536!

A 1-way coach flight in March 2016 costs ~480 Euros (~$536)!

Save Money Flying In Europe With British Airways Avios Points

British Airways Avios Points to the Rescue! I Found the Same Flight Available With Points

You can book the exact same flight for 7,500 British Airways Avios points and $74 on British Airways partner Finnair, which saves you lots of cash!

You can also book a Business Class award on this flight.

Save Money Flying In Europe With British Airways Avios Points

You Can Pay Double the Points for a Business Class Seat, but It’s Usually Not a Good Idea

But, it costs double the amount of points.  Because the flight is only ~2 hours long, most European airlines don’t fly planes with bigger seats in Business Class.

Instead, they section off the front coach rows, and block off the middle seats.

Some airlines do have a nicer seat for Business Class.  But I’d rather save my points to be more comfortable on longer flights!  That said, you may save on checked luggage costs with a Business Class ticket, so do the math for your situation.

And remember, if you want to extensively explore Europe, you can save money flying on budget airlines, too!

Note:   I’ve noticed it’s better to start looking for flights within Europe at least ~1 month or more in advance.  Because seats on flights in Europe tend to fill up a month before they depart.  

You can book award travel for British Airway’s European travel partners on the British Airways website.

But if you call to book instead, you’ll be charged 15 Euros (~$17) in award booking fees.

Check Where You Can Go

Link:   Wandering Aramean’s Avios Calculator

Wandering Aramean built a calculator to figure out how much flights cost with British Airways Avios points.

Enter your starting airport, and you’ll see a color-coded map of all your options.

Save Money Flying In Europe With British Airways Avios Points

Green Means You Can Fly for 4,500 British Avios Points Each Way

For example, from Paris, you can use 4,500 British Airways Avios points to fly to cities including:

  • Amsterdam
  • Cork
  • Dublin
  • London
  • Vienna

And for 7,500 British Airways Avios points, you can fly to Madrid.

Keep in mind British Airways charges for each flight segment.  You won’t save points by adding a connecting flight.

In fact, it will cost you more points.  So it’s better to search each flight segment 1 at a time, and then piece them together.

But the great thing about that is, you can stay as long as you want in each place!  So British Airways Avios points are fantastic for seeing more places when you visit Europe.

Earn More British Airways Avios Points

Link:   Chase British Airways

It’s possible to earn a total of 100,000 British Airways Avios points with the Chase British Airways.

But to get the full bonus, you’ll have to spend:

  • $2,000 on purchases in the 1st 3 months of opening your account (earn 50,000 British Airways Avios points)
  • $10,000 (total) on purchases in the 1st 12 months of opening your account (earn an additional 25,000 British Airways Avios points)
  • $20,000 (total) on purchases in the 1st 12 months of opening your account (earn another 25,000 British Airways Avios points)

So you’ll have to make $20,000 in purchases during the 1st year to earn all 100,000 British Airways Avios points.

Even if you signed-up for the card to earn 50,000 British Airways Avios points, that’s still enough for:

  • 11 one-way coach award flights under 650 miles (or 5 round-trip flights)
  • 6 one-way coach award flights over 650 miles, but under 1,150 miles (or 3 round-trip flights)

If each short-haul 1-way flight under 650 miles costs $200 out-of-pocket, that’s over $2,000 you’ll save by redeeming British Airways Avios points instead.  And of course, you can earn up to 100,000 British Airways Avios points and save double that!

Check out my review of the card and some ideas about how to meet minimum spending requirements.

Save Money Flying In Europe With British Airways Avios Points

Besides the British Airways Card, You Can Earn British Airways Avios Points by Transferring AMEX Membership Rewards Points, Chase Ultimate Rewards Points, or Starwood Points

Here’s my full series about how to earn & use British Airways Avios points for Big Travel with Small Money!

Bottom Line

British Airways Avios points are an excellent way to save money on short flights around Europe.

Remember you’ll pay 4,500 British Airways Avios points for a 1-way coach award flight under 650 miles.  And 7,500 British Airways Avios points for a 1-way coach award flight over 650 miles, but under 1,150 miles.

And keep in mind there are lots of ways to get Big Travel with Small Money in Europe!

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3 responses to “Save Money Flying in Europe With British Airways Avios Points

  1. But check around a little. It only took me a minute (Kayak) to find flights under $100 on the same date from Berlin to Helsinki on other carriers. That’s with a connection, but there’s a nonstop at $215, still far below the rate you show.

    For your other example I easily found a Vueling flight for $56 nonstop from Paris to Vienna. Would you rather pay $34 plus 4,500 Avios, getting less than a half cent value for your Avios?

    I’m not saying Avios can’t be a great deal when flying within Europe. My point would be that just checking paid flights on the same airline to compare isn’t enough. There are often cheap options on other carriers.

  2. @DaveS – Great tip! Yes, always run the numbers to make sure an award booking works for you!

    There are lots of great budget airlines in Europe:

    http://millionmilesecrets.com/2015/07/06/explore-europe-for-cheap-with-budget-airlines/

    Thank you for pointing that out!

  3. I hear momondo.com is the best for finding cheap flights within Europe. I was thinking along the same lines as DaveS.